This Week, 10 Artworks Sold for $605 Million
As record after record fell— the most ever paid for a living artist at auction ($91 million for Jeff Koons’ Rabbit), the highest price ever paid at auction for work by Claude Monet, Jonas Wood, Louise Bourgeois, Robert Rauschenberg, and Frank Stella—it was hard not to wonder if the world’s richest know something Wall Street doesn’t, or if they’re simply immune to market fluctuations altogether. (A third theory: market volatility actually benefits the art buying upper-class.)
More than anything, the pinnacle of the auction market is consistent. A year ago, the top 10 works at New York’s May sales totaled $587.4 million, and included a Double Elvis by Andy Warhol, a Van Gogh landscape, a Rothko color field, a painting of a woman by Picasso, and a work by Modigliani.
This year had the exact same list—a total of six artists made the top 10 year over year.
The only change was a modest increase in dollar amount. The May 2019 tally was up 3 percent.
Claude Monet’s Meules, $110.7 million
Painted in 1890 and sold at Sotheby’s.
Jeff Koons’s Rabbit, $91 million
Executed in 1986 and sold at Christie’s.
Robert Rauschenberg’s Buffalo II, $88.8 million
Painted in 1964 and sold at Christie’s.
Pablo Picasso’s Femme Au Chien, $54.9 million
Painted in 1962 and sold at Sotheby’s.
Andy Warhol’s Double Elvis [Ferus Type], $53 million
Painted in 1963 and Sold at Christie’s.
Francis Bacon’s Study for a Head, $50.3 million
Painted in 1952 and sold at Sotheby’s.
Mark Rothko’s Untitled, $50 million
Painted in 1960 and sold at Sotheby’s.
Vincent Van Gogh’s Arbres dans le Jardin de L’Asile, $40 million
Painted in 1889 and sold at Christie’s.
Amedeo Modigliani’s Tête, $34.3 million
Carved c. 1911-1912 and sold at Christie’s.
Louise Bourgeois’s Spider, $32 million
Cast in 1997 and sold at Christie’s.
©2019 Bloomberg L.P.